When Probation has cause to believe that a minor has committed a “delinquent act,” Probation must immediately investigate to determine whether juvenile court proceedings should be started. As explained above in #8, if Probation has received an application to begin proceedings, there are certain categories of cases in which Probation does not have discretion as to next steps, and must refer the case to the District Attorney’s office. If the case does not fall into one of these categories, or if the case comes to Probation not as an application to begin proceedings, Probation must conduct an intake and determine how to proceed.
Depending on the nature of the case, Probation may have the option to “settle a case at intake,” meaning the case would not be referred to the District Attorney or filed in court. The California Rules of Court indicate that settlement at intake should occur in the following circumstances:
- When the juvenile court does not have jurisdiction over the matter;
- When there is not enough evidence to support filing a delinquency petition;
- When the case is suitable for referral to a non-judicial agency or program in the community.
The California Rules of Court set out a list of factors for Probation to consider when determining whether to settle a case at intake. If Probation decides to settle at intake, Probation can do any of the following:
- Take no action;
- Counsel the youth; or
- Refer the youth and the family to agencies or programs in the community.
If Probation decides to settle a case an intake after receiving an affidavit application from law enforcement to commence proceedings, then Probation must “endorse” its decision not to proceed further on the affidavit. Probation must state the reasons for its decision on the affidavit and notify the law enforcement officer of the decision, then retain the affidavit for a period of 30 business days. The law enforcement officer may then, within 10 business days of receiving Probation’s notice, apply directly to the District Attorney to review Probation’s decision.